Denver police received warning about shooting spree gunman and his books almost a year before killings

Denver police received a warning a year ago about the man who killed five people in an attack across the Denver metro and the book the gunman wrote detailing some of the killings.

A German man contacted Denver 311 on Jan. 3, 2021, about Lyndon McLeod and wrote, “I think that there is a small, but undeniable possibility, that the accused may commit a terrorist attack.”

The German man, Andre Thiele, said in an interview Monday with The Denver Post that he contacted Denver police after reading McLeod’s books and participating in a chatroom for fans of the book. The gunman participated in the chat and made increasingly alarming statements that prompted Thiele to contact authorities, Thiele said. Thiele also submitted a tip online to the FBI and sent them a letter via mail, he said.

“I cannot in good conscience say that he will act with certainty,” Thiele wrote in a letter to Denver police, which he provided to The Post. “But I can say that IF he should act, the result would be devastating. He then would stop at nothing.”

Denver police on Tuesday confirmed they received a tip from a person in Germany in January 2021 citing concerns about McLeod, including information about a fraud that involved a potential victim outside of Colorado. Denver police could not link McLeod to a Denver address and had no reason to believe McLeod was living in Denver at the time, Denver police spokesman Doug Schepman said in a statement.

“DPD is reviewing the investigation, but based on our initial review, there was not sufficient evidence to file criminal charges or a legal basis for monitoring McLeod at the time,” Schepman said.

The review of the January 2021 investigation will also include whether detectives read McLeod’s books, Schepman said. The self-published books described a character named “Lyndon MacLeod” killing some of the people he killed during his Dec. 27 spree of violence.

Denver police Chief Paul Pazen previously said that McLeod had been the subject of two law enforcement investigations: one in 2020 and one in early 2021. He refused during a Dec. 28 press conference to elaborate on the nature of the investigations.

Email records Thiele provided to The Denver Post show that a Denver police detective contacted Thiele via email on Jan. 4, 2021, and said he would look into his concerns. Thiele sent the detective two documents that outlined his concerns about McLeod and included statements McLeod made in the chatroom that worried Thiele.

“Though the book is not political per se, it could be read as an extremist right-wing manifesto and a terrorist prophecy,” Thiele wrote in one of the documents.

“It may very well be that the accused is a typical case of a literary genius and a petty thug, who runs his mouth and talks too much,” Thiele wrote. “I would from my personal experiences say that this might be a 90% chance. But there is a 10% chance, that he has – at least in his own mind – created the perfect storm of right-wing terrorism.”

The detective responded a few minutes later thanking Thiele for contacting Denver police and said he would reach out if he had any further questions.

That was the last Thiele heard from the department, Thiele said, though he later heard from at least two people he listed in the letter that they had been contacted by law enforcement.

Thiele did not know at the time he made his report to police that some of the people McLeod’s main character killed in the books were real people.

Thiele at first was a fan of McLeod and his book and started interacting with him in 2019. It wasn’t until he participated in a fans-only chatroom with McLeod that he became alarmed. McLeod recommended books that were essentially neo-Nazi pamphlets, Thiele said, and made concerning remarks about wanting to start a war.

“Only after I got to know him better and the reality of his life and the reality of his points of view, I realized that this was not a novel but a manifesto, or a letter of commitment,” Thiele said Monday.

Thiele said he didn’t know if his alarm was more than a hunch, but wanted trained law enforcement professionals to take a look at McLeod and complete their own risk assessment.

“Tragically, they didn’t see what I saw,” he said. “I saw through the jokes and saw the guy underneath it. I’m sad I couldn’t prove it.”

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